Council votes unanimously to move forward with fare-free transit in Kansas City

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Kansas City City Council voted 13-0 in Thursday’s legislative session to move the city forward in providing free public bus transit.

The resolution directs the City Manager to find the necessary funds that would allow free transit to be possible.

KCATA receives about $8 million annually from bus fares in Kansas City. Currently, a single ride cost $1.50 and a 31-day pass is $50.

The City Manager would then, in collaboration with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, include a funding request in the next fiscal year’s budget (2020-2021) and present findings on the fiscal impact of that request.

“It will give us information as we go into our budget deliberations on what changes had to be made, if any, for existing programs,” said Councilwoman Shields. “I think we need to know what decision the City Manager is making so we can weigh-in on funding this. If something needs to be cut or curtailed, what exactly is it going to be?”

Councilman Brandon Ellington said he supported the city’s move to free transit.

“I think this is one of the important things we can do,” he said. “We all come from different communities and have different beliefs on fiscal responsibility. When we talk about the price tag of being able to do free transit and improve the lives of citizens here, I think this is a necessity.”

Councilwoman Heather Hall said she believes this is something that is long overdue.

“Everyone knows how I feel about the street car—it’s free—and I think we need to be commensurate with all of our transit. If our street car is free, then our bus should be free, so this is a no-brainer in my opinion.”

Councilman Eric Bunch, who considers himself a choice transit rider, said there are times when the bus he rides is 15 minutes late because of heavy boarding and individuals paying with coins to board the bus.

“I want to do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I believe that people have a right to move about this city and maybe, instead of calling it ‘fare-free transit,’ maybe we should call it ‘free to move about the city.’”

Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin McManus said it is critical to look at every possible way to make transit free in the city.

“It presents us with options to make sure we are doing it in the best way possible. For me the most important thing isn’t that we just do it in one year’s budget, but that we come up with a systematic way to fund it longitudinally.”

McManus added that this vote does not automatically make transit free in the city, but is a step forward in that direction.

“I want everybody to know who is following that this doesn’t make transit free in the city. This is a pledge of this council saying we want to make free transit happen, but ultimately, it’s budget dependent. It’s an appropriation decision and I think it’s not just a one year budget decision. We need to make sure we have a way to do it in the future.”

Councilman Kevin O’Neill discussed his continued concerns around what exactly would be cut to fund this operation.

“What is going away when you are finding the money? In this case, I think us having to look at what is being cut is important. It’s easy to say ‘I love free transit,’ but there is going to be a price to pay and this gives us an opportunity to see that.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas said he wants to not only look at funding, but sustainability, and even threw out the idea of taking $2 million from the streetcar.

“I think what is fair for us to say is not only where does it come from but how do we make this a sustainable program,” he said. “Maybe somebody will finally say we take $2 million back from the streetcar, which to me, is totally uncontroversial. As someone who has introduced and passed these resolutions before that are very good policy, actually identifying the source of funds, so you can fight for them, is key and vital.”

The council voted unanimously to the resolution.

The City Manager will now work on finding funds for this service and will present findings in January to the Finance, Governance, and Public Safety Committee of which Councilwoman Katheryn Shields is chair.

The Prospect MAX route began service Monday, December 9 and will be free to ride until February 2020.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Throwback Thursday time!

    8 hours ago
    by

    Today’s Throwback Thursday brings us all the way back to the August 14th 1980 issue of the Northeast News. . […]


    Early morning homicide at Independence and Paseo leaves one dead

    9 hours ago
    by

    Kansas City marked its 123rd homicide of the year early Thursday morning. Shortly after 1:15 a.m. Kansas City, Mo. Police […]


    10-Minute Walk Grant will continue improvements in Northeast parks

    August 12th, 2020
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Last month the Northeast News detailed the Colonnade restoration project at Concourse Park. However, that is […]


    KC man charged for threatening KFC employee with gun

    August 12th, 2020
    by

    A Kansas City, Mo., man faces charges in federal court for illegally possessing a firearm he used to threaten an […]


    Art project launched as part of public health outreach

    August 12th, 2020
    by

    Daisy Garcia Montoya Editorial Assistant A Kansas City research team is launching an art project in the Northeast to bring […]


    HAKC requests Paseo Gateway funds for Clay Co. public housing

    August 12th, 2020
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Housing Authority of Kansas City (HAKC) is requesting a release of funds from the Choice […]


    NEAT breaks ground on affordable, sustainable home

    August 11th, 2020
    by

    Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) broke ground on a new net zero, affordable single-family home at 133 N. […]


    KC Parks to offer virtual learning sites for students

    August 11th, 2020
    by

    The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department will begin offering free virtual learning sites for elementary students. The department is […]


  • Kansas City Man Charged with Robbery as part of Operation LeGend

    August 6th, 2020
    by

    Operation LeGend continues to net positive results in Kansas City, this time snaring a 19 year-old Kansas City man for […]


    Finance provides insight into budget shortfalls and potential fixes

    August 6th, 2020
    by

    Representatives from the City’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated the City Council and Mayor Quinton Lucas on the […]


    Missouri’s tax-free weekend returns tomorrow

    August 6th, 2020
    by

    Kansas City shoppers will see the return of Missouri’s annual tax-free weekend starting Aug. 7, 2020 in Jackson, Clay, Platte […]


    Throwback Thursday

    August 6th, 2020
    by

    Today we visit the August 5, 1965 edition of The Northeast News that had these great community news stories. Pack […]


    Police search for PH Coffee robber

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    PH Coffee, 2200 Lexington, was robbed on Aug. 1, 2020, and police are asking for the public’s help identifying a […]


    Victim dies from Saturday 12th and Lawndale shooting

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    The victim of an Aug. 1 shooting at 12th and Lawndale has died from his injuries, according to police. The […]


    Información sobre pruebas gratuitas de COVID-19

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    Daisy Garcia Montoya Editorial Assistant La ciudad de Kansas City, Missouri, está ofreciendo pruebas gratuitas de COVID-19 en diferentes sitios […]


    Local priest involved in Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Lawsuit

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    Daisy Garcia Montoya Editorial Assistant A priest who served at Holy Cross Catholic Church on St. John Avenue is involved […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.